Thursday, March 16, 2017

War Paint


Take the librettist (Doug Wright), composer (Scott Frankel), lyricist (Michael Korie), Tony-winning star (Christine Ebersole) and director (Michael Greif) of a much-loved musical (Grey Gardens); for good measure, add another Tony-winning diva (Patti Lupone), throw in Tony winners for choreography (Christopher Gatelli) and costume design (Catherine Zuber) plus the scenic designer of Hamilton (David Korins), and you should have all the ingredients of a wonderful show. And don't forget to include plot points that will appeal to Jews and gays, two staples of the Broadway audience. Unfortunately, this new musical about Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, now in previews at the Nederlander Theatre, does not fully deliver on its promise. While there is much to admire — the two leads, a sumptuous production, some good songs with intelligent lyrics — there is little to love. The story of the parallel careers of these two cosmetic giants, while instructive about an interesting aspect of American social history, is a bit bloodless. There were very few moments when I was moved. John Dossett plays Arden’s husband and sales manager. Douglas Sills plays Rubenstein’s closeted business manager and companion. Their switcheroo seemed a bit too formulaic. Some judicious trimming is in order. At two hours 45 minutes including intermission, it risks wearing out its welcome. It’s far from terrible, but with all that talent involved, the results are disappointing.

No comments: